Improving fixed cadence

fossala

Veteran
Location
Cornwall
I seem to be spinning out each day at around 160rpm on my commute. I want to increase to push my maximum speed downhill. Any tips on how to get faster, my main problem is smoothness once around 150-160rpm?
 

mcshroom

Bionic Subsonic
Fit a bigger gear and live with it on the uphills?

I've not ridden fixed much since I broke my arm doing it a few years ago, but what seemed to help me spin a bit quicker was to concentrate on pulling back/up on the lower pedal rather than pushing on the higher pedal. I found my knees felt less locked that way. Also a slightly lower saddle can help.
 

Soltydog

Legendary Member
Location
near Hornsea
I've not rode fixed, but single speed & it's all about getting the right gear. No real hills round here, but the wind is a killer. On initial set up I was spinning out at close to 30mph , with a tail wind, but then riding back into the wind was a real killer. Dropped a couple of teeth on the rear cog & all's well, but still wouldn't fancy riding in any kind of wind :okay:
 
OP
fossala

fossala

Veteran
Location
Cornwall
I can't gear up, I'm at 72" and live in a very hilly area. My commute peaks at 12%, has a 10% average for 1 mile and has around 1200ft climbing over 10miles.

I think I just need more practice, Rome wasn't built in a day...
 

Dave Davenport

Legendary Member
Location
Hampshire
I find getting low on the drops helps a lot,. How fast I can spin depends a lot on the state of the road surface and how straight the road is, on a 76" gear 160rpm is about my max unless it's a nice smooth surface and straight when I can manage about 180rpm.
 

smutchin

Cat 6 Racer
Location
The Red Enclave
Practice. Practice. More practice.

You need to have the confidence to let go a bit and try to go with it. Keep pushing yourself and you'll find it gradually gets easier (though I don't believe anyone ever feels truly comfortable at 180rpm+ or can sustain it for more than a short burst). Also remember when you're getting to the outer limits of your comfort zone to keep your brakes covered, and be very mindful of not forgetting to keep pedalling.
 

midlife

Guru
Way back when I rode a lot of fixed (we all did) , at high cadence (twiddling) there was a limit where I just started to bounce around. Despite several years of trying I never seemed to break the limit..... I guess it was just that my legs couldn't move that fast lol.
 
OP
fossala

fossala

Veteran
Location
Cornwall
... Also remember when you're getting to the outer limits of your comfort zone to keep your brakes covered, and be very mindful of not forgetting to keep pedalling.
Something I've noticed is that if I'm applying a little bit of brakes my weight shifts forward causing more tension in my upper body. This make me less "loose" and makes the higher end of spinning harder.

I've got a Specialized singlecross turning up today to commute on (my BJ w/ dura ace is to nice), may try bullhorns to help up the hills and have a larger area to brace my hands against when braking.
 

Yellow Saddle

Veteran
Location
Loch side.
Cant' help but wonder why you don't just drive, after all it's easier...
I suppose I did ask for it.

OK, above 160rpm, it is no longer a matter of muscle conditioning but neurological conditioning. Bouncing is introduced when the returning leg muscles are still firing and provides a bit of resistance to the advancing leg. You have to condition the nerve pulses. This is best done by training on a stationary bike so that you can focus on technique rather than a hill crisis coming up. Some people claim they get big improvements in this conditioning from training with a Powercrank. These gadgets prevent one leg from interfering with the other and helps to train the muscles to release quicker on the upstroke.
I had a go on one of them once fitted to a road bike. It was a very strange sensation.

Give that a go. See if you can borrow one somewhere.
 

Yellow Saddle

Veteran
Location
Loch side.
If you've never descended a 15% gradient while clinging on to your bike in sheer terror, bouncing in your saddle with your feet spinning at something approaching 200rpm, you simply haven't lived...
I used to get my kicks from chasing trucks and then sitting in the incredible slipstream just centimeters away from the tailgate. Somehow that feels safer than your 15% 200rpm gyrocopter scenario.

I have lived.

I like to think I've grown up but truth beholds, I just got too slow to catch them anymore.
 

Sharky

Veteran
Location
Kent
Don't have a cadence monitor, but I maxed out on the "ski-slope" start on the Tonbridge bypass once, at 44mph on a 95" fixed, which equates to just under 160 rpm. Was bouncing around and was really scary - only just resisted using the brakes. In spite of the fast start, my average at the finish was only about 22 mph.

On the bike I used for commuting (when I was working), I rode fixed (68")for a long time, but the route was up and down Kent's North Downs and was pretty wearing, especially on the descents, so switched to a single freewheel, which was much more comfortable and faster on the descents.
 
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